Saturday 31 March 2018

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive

Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 5940 yen

The release of Ultraman Orb last year brought hope to collectors that Bandai Tamashii Nations would begin to tackle the modern generation of Ultra heroes in tandem with their journey through the franchise's history, and that hope has now been answered with the release of S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed Primitive! As well as kicking off the Return of Ultraman range later this year with Ultraman Jack and Twin-Tail, Bandai will also be covering the latest Ultraman series with a number of figures from Ultraman Geed. And of course there's no better place to start than right at the beginning, with Primitive - the base form of Ultraman Geed and a "Fusion Rise" of both the original Ultraman and the evil Belial.

While the classic Ultra releases have had a bit more of a distinct pattern to their packaging, the newer releases on the other hand seem to be a bit more individual and representative of the individual series.  Geed's packaging is a nice clean white box with jagged red and black gradient bordering, which also matches the font used for the name printed on the front and spines. True to the Ultraman way the box features a nice big image of the actual suit on the front of the box, which is a really nice touch that the rest of the Figuarts range could definitely benefit from. The back of the box features the usual array of stock images against a generic grey backdrop, and inside you'll find you'll find the figure and accessories loaded onto a single clamshell tray. One unique thing here is that the tray uses raised circular "lock" sections to keep it in place - much like you'd find on a Nendroid tray. I don't think I've ever seen this done on a Figuarts release before, which makes me wonder why Bandai felt it was necessary for Geed. Maybe they felt that tiny colour timer piece was at a particularly great risk of falling out and getting lost?

Ultraman Orb may have been the first time Ultraman properly dabbled in the realms of fusion, but Ultraman Geed definitely went and made it its own as well. Maybe it's just use of Belial's distinct design traits, but overall Geed has a really unique look amongst the other Ultra heroes in even his most basic form. The combination of red, black and silver is a perfect ratio, giving Geed a striking look that's also generally in-keeping with Ultraman's umbrella colourscheme. On top of those you have the bright blue eyes and colour timer, which really emphasise Geed's purity against such a seemingly sinister design. Bandai have done a wonderful job capturing this and shrinking it down to figure form, especially on the sculpting and colour layout. A new touch for the Geed mould is the implementation of raised sections on the outer side of each leg, making that ball-joint connection with the hip that little bit less obvious. It really isn't a big change, but it makes huge difference to the overall presentation of the figure and definitely something Tamashii should continue to do going forwards.

Geed's articulation is largely excellent, and like most other Ultraman figures the lack of any armoured sections really lets that Figuarts body work its magic. Geed Primitive features the usual peg joint head, ball joints in the neck, shoulders, torso, waist, wrists and hips, along with double hinged elbows and knees, ball hinge ankles and a hinged toe-cap on each foot. Sadly no ankle rockers here, so while the feet can bend upwards and rotate they don't have any real sideways motion. The shoulder joints are also somewhat problematic, not in the amount of the movement they provide (because on the whole that's pretty great), but the fact the arms can barely rest parallel to the body. Instead they rest diagonally just like you'll have seen in the image a bit further up. I've noticed this is becoming an increasing problem with Figuarts in general, but this is the first time I've felt its so bad that a figure needs to be called out on it. The final thing worth noting is that while the raised leg sections don't detract from the overall hip articulation, I would advise being a bit more careful than usual just to avoid the possibility of any paint rub on the top of the leg. It's not something that's happened to my figure, but having experienced paint rub on other Ultraman figures (albeit in different areas) it's something I'm always wary of.

Geed's accessory count is fairly generic Ultraman fare too, in that it's the same kind of pieces you see with every release albeit slightly altered to fit the character. Included here are three additional pairs of hands, a swappable red colour timer and a "Wrecking Burst" beam effect part. However the effect part is certainly one of nicest ones the Ultra Figuarts have produced so far, not just done up in a vibrant translucent blue but also featuring a cool reddish-purple lighting effect running through it. It's also nice to finally have a swappable colour timer that isn't either nearly impossible to remove (Ultraman/Zoffy) or falls out should you so even look at it (Ultraman Orb). Geed's just pops out easily like it should and the new one fit snugly in its place. To cap things off the hand selection is pretty good too, although its interesting how Bandai included generic straight hands when Geed's cross arm poses uses a more relaxed variant (which are also included). A case of Bandai covering all bases or simply reusing the assets they already have? You could certainly make an argument for both there.

It's a fairly comprehensive set of accessories for Geed Primitive, but it isn't quite perfect. The main omission here is the Geed Claw - Geed's close range combat weapon. While you could perhaps make the argument that the weapon is more associated with Geed's other forms, it was still used by Primitive and there's no guarantee Bandai are necessarily going to release another form with it (especially given they've skipped straight to Royal Mega-Master and the wider range of characters Geed has compared to Orb). Missing weapons is beginning to become a bit of regular thing with Figuarts so this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but it's still sad to see when the line used to be so good at giving releases everything they could conceivably come with. It would have been especially nice here given how generic Ultraman accessories tend to be for the most part.

It might just be that the greater variety in sculpts allow for better figures, but while the Ultra alien/kaiju range has hit that sweet spot of releasing incredible figures the hero side of things is still lagging behind a little bit. S.H. Figuarts Ultraman Geed is without a doubt the best Ultraman the line has produced so far, but there are still a few notable flaws here and there that make him fall just short of perfection. Nevertheless, the bar is most definitely getting raised so there's every chance the next release will finally jump over that hurdle (okay maybe not Ultraman Jack since it probably shares the same mould as Ultraman/Zoffy, but the one after that for sure). Ultraman Geed Primitive is still a pretty great figure over all though, so its definitely worth letting this good boy into your collection as soon as you can.

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